Category Archives: Personal Growth

Fourth Confession: How I Fell In Love Online….With A BLM Brand

Courtesy of Meg Hartman

Beautiful Angel. Courtesy of Meg Hartman Photography

An Unexpected Love…

At the beginning of the Year of the Horse, 2014, while horses were “at the gate” about to gallop into my life, bringing with them undreamed-of joy, I saw a picture on Facebook of a beautiful Mustang mare, Angel, who had been rescued and was needing a forever home.  It was love at first sight for me.  There are so many intangibles that I can only remotely describe how or why I loved her at first sight.  Perhaps it was the pure sweetness and love in her eyes… with a twinkling potential of sassy 😉

Courtesy of Chris L.

Angel! Courtesy of Chris L.

One can only imagine what Chris, the founder of Mustang Rescue Network, thought, when I messaged her almost immediately that I wanted to adopt her!  When she questioned me about my horse experience and qualifications to adopt her all I could answer was, “Well, I’m leasing a glorious mare (Serenity) and currently caring for her daily as she had injured herself badly and needs a lot of TLC.  But I’m somewhat new to horses…”  (Oh yes, Novice Horsewoman indeed!)

I can now imagine Chris gently shaking her wise head and even more gently preparing how to say “No” to me 🙂  Which she did!  But that began a friendship between us, with the sweet Mustang mare as the bridge.

Angel was found in Georgia wandering down a road with many mysteries surrounding how she came to be there.

Angel in the woods. Courtesy of Chris L.

Angel in the woods. Courtesy of Chris L.

Her BLM brand told only a tiny bit of her story. but allowed the Rescue Network to identify her western origins and give an approximation of her age.  She had been “gathered” in Nevada in 1996 at approximately 1 year of age and adopted at about 1.5 years of age. How she got to Georgia is unknown. When they contacted the person who was currently in possession of her, he claimed her to be an abandoned horse that he knew from working with her for some people in the past. He went to their place to find it empty and figured they had abandoned her near where he usually rode. He seemed to want the best for Angel…

Mustang Rescue Network folk were able to acquire her legally and foster her while they put weight on her and slowly began discerning where she could be happiest in a forever home.

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Angel enjoying her hay! Courtesy of Chris L.

Chris has had mustangs in her heart and soul since she first read Mustang, Wild Spirit of the West  ( by Marguerite Henry) as a young girl. She had ridden often with her grandmother and grandfather when young and had had the love-of-her-life horse as a young woman in upstate New York before moving to Georgia.  Angel’s appearance in her life began a wonderful series of events which began with her creation of the Mustang Rescue Network.

Over the next few months I began contributing to Angel’s care through the Mustang Rescue Network and Chris and I kept in touch about her progress.  I was also privileged to receive extra pictures of her physical progress as she gained her weight back, got some gloss in her coat and began some gentle training.  I never stopped hoping that, as I began to get more horse experience, maybe just maybe Chris would eventually let me adopt her!

But life had other ideas ;)…

I knew, the minute I actually met Chris and Angel in person in Eatonton, Georgia and played with her in some training games, that as much as I adored this pretty mustang, I wasn’t “the one” for her.  Chris was.

Courtesy of Chris L.

Angel and Chris play together. Courtesy of Meg Hartman Photography

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Christine and Angel play together. Courtesy of Chris L.

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Christine receives “Angel Love” in Georgia. 💗Courtesy of Chris L.

The months rolled on and each time I went to Georgia I met with Chris and Angel enjoying exquisite times being in the presence of this very special mare.

It never ceased to hurt my heart to see her brand and the scars in her precious face where someone had left a halter on, obviously for years, so that her face also seemed “branded” with these halter scars.  However, sweet Angel didn’t seem to notice those things and became more and more herself as she felt safe, nurtured and had her hoof issues tended to.  The sassiness, only guessed at from the look in her eyes in early pictures, came out in her personality, which, combined with her sweetness, was completely irresistible!  ” Little Miss Sweet and Sassy” (as we nicknamed her) would walk around in her pasture with the cutest little swing in her hips and an adorable swish of her tail.

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Little Miss Sweet and Sassy! Courtesy of Chris L.

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Angel Enjoys Her Life In The Pasture! Courtesy of Chris L.

Anyone and everyone who met Angel, fell in love at first sight.  Since words cannot describe the loveable essence of this beautiful mare, I’m hoping the pictures I include do 🙂

When I first began writing this story about Angel, I had trouble getting anywhere with it.  I kept procrastinating.

Now I know why…

On many different levels, Chris had trouble conceiving that Angel could and should be hers.  It was so interesting to see how happy they each were with each other, how connected, and yet, there seemed to be some unseen barriers that Chris would need to overcome to be able to actually  say, “Angel and I belong together”.

Chris patiently and persistently worked through her hesitation.  As Chris came near to working it through, I was  honored to be with them both the day Angel let HER desires be known!

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Angel quietly let Chris know her wishes!

We had been hand grazing Angel and sat down on a log to chat about Angel’s prospects and if Chris was just about at the “place” inside herself where she could see herself adopting her.  In an utterly silent yet breathtaking manner, in the course of our conversation, Angel stopped grazing and came and stood right next to Chris, in quiet stillness, for almost a half an hour as we chatted.

In those minutes, I think Chris and I BOTH knew that Angel was stating what she wanted.  To be with Chris as her forever human.

Within a couple of weeks, the last internal barriers were torn down and Chris knew beyond any doubt that she and Angel would spend their lives together. She began the adoption process!

I see now that I couldn’t have finished this story without this joyful conclusion at the end of it 🙂

Ah yes, INDEED…in life….expect the unexpected!

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Angel. Courtesy of Meg Hartman Photography

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Angel. Courtesy of Meg Hartman Photography

Third Confession Part Two: Revealing The Dirty Little Secrets That Happen At Barns :)

Baby Doe and Spirit Under The Stars! Artist: Merel Burggraaf (www.merelburggraaf.com)

UNEXPECTED LESSONS ABOUT ADVERSITY, GOOD FORTUNE AND HUMAN NATURE

In Part 1 of this post, I think I firmly established that the dirty little secrets at barns have very little to do with manure or rolls in the hay 😉 but have everything to do with human nature in all its aspects.

I also described the journey of acknowledging the seeds of joy in each adverse situation, while knowing that bubbling quietly under the calm waters of good fortune, adversity can be just beneath the surface.   It is all part of the balance of life.

As life at the “fancy” barn became increasingly more intolerable for Spirit, Baby Doe and me, a final incident, described in the last post, gave me the tipping point I needed to help convince trainer Bryan help me to get my two out of there!  And, simultaneously, events were occurring at the barn where I had once leased the glorious mare, Serenity, that opened up two stalls and had Felice, my former barn buddy, becoming manager of that barn.

Within a week, my two were trailered and moved.

As a “parting shot” from the fancy barn, an ugly situation occurred that erased any doubt from Bryan’s or my mind regarding leaving.  Bryan had been fostering orphaned baby ducks on the property.  As they grew bigger, more ducks were joining the flock.  They were Muskogee ducks, not indigenous to Florida and many people are not pleased with their presence in our lakes and canals.  Still, they are God’s creatures, too.  The owner of the barn felt the presence of the ducks was hurting his chances at getting offers on his barn.

One day, without consulting Bryan, he had some “men” come up from Miami, and there, at the barn, within earshot and sight lines of the horses, they strangled half these ducks to death and carted them off in their truck.  (Probably to cook up at some restaurant for unsuspecting patrons.)  Even writing about this, eight months later, causes waves of nausea, disgust and deep sadness to wash over me.

The next few months at Felice’s barn were, what I like to term, the “I Love Lucy’ months 🙂

Baby Doe Reunites With Her Full Brother, Fritz, While Spirit Sticks His Sweet Nose Into Their Reunion :)

Baby Doe Reunites With Her Full Brother, While Spirit Sticks His Sweet Nose Into Their Reunion 🙂

Felice had never managed a barn before and though it was only her Paint gelding (who, by the way is full brother to Baby Doe), my two, and a 20-year-old, noble gelding named Gismo, four horses are still a lot of horses!!!!

We worked together, with her husband, made our mistakes (MANY mistakes), had our triumphs and epiphanies. Luckily, nobody died and the booboos that occurred were all fixable. Still, in the course of this, there were so many moments, that, had they been filmed, would have looked like “I Love Lucy” episodes, that we found ourselves laughing more than crying 🙂

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Spirit Taking A Sunbath 🙂

It was a peaceful time.

It was a wondrous time, as well. Felice and I began having groups of her special needs, autistic students come to the barn and interact with the horses on field trips.  Every Saturday, there were at least 3 or 4 special needs kids that came to the barn to help us scoop manure, bleach water buckets, lay shavings and just laugh, enjoying the horses’ antics.

Greeting Baby Doe

Greeting Baby Doe

Angel Paints Beautiful Pictures On Patient Gismo During Our "Barn Field Trips"

A Student Paints Beautiful Pictures On Patient Gismo During Our “Barn Field Trips”

Yet under the surface of the peace of these months, seeds of adversity were slowly maturing.

Unbeknownst to us, the owner of the property was looking to list it and sell.

We were finding we couldn’t give the horses turnout unsupervised, because the fencing was so rotted out that they could have gotten out, or worse, really injured themselves.  It was too cost /time prohibitive for us to replace it and the owner refused.

There just wasn’t enough grazing available.  The horses were getting increasingly irritable and restless, being in their stalls long hours.

Riding The Trails At Treetops Park. Baby Doe Is Directly Behind Me And Spirit.

Riding The Trails At Treetops Park. Baby Doe Is Directly Behind Me And Spirit.

So, even though we had the superb advantage of acres of trails just outside the back gate, my two, at least, were having issues. There was not enough structure. Trainer Bryan didn’t get there as often as promised. Their youth required more experience than this Novice possesses. They were exhibiting increasing restlessness that would sometimes cause erratic behavior on the trails. Some differences in philosophy between Felice and me resulted in inconsistent human behavior with them.

The sleepy seeds of adversity began sprouting above the ground when, at the first of the year, two new boarders took up residence at Felice’s barn, bringing their wonderful horses as well as their own big personalities and personal issues.

On the surface, it looked like good fortune because these women were very experienced horsewomen, with experience with young horses!  Given that, by now, trainer Bryan had his hands completely full at a new barn with students and horses and no longer had time for me, it looked like fortune had smiled.

However, the next two months became a kaleidoscope of disparate energies. There seemed to be a team of outspoken “barn know-it-alls” coming up against me. My horses began displaying more irritable, aggressive behaviors.  Time after time, I found myself not listening to my inner voice, sobbing through bouts of anxiety and not standing up for my truth.

Ah, but then…one day…it was finally ENOUGH!  I, FINALLY, stood up for my truth. I “made the fist”.

One by one, with each human, I set boundaries (with kindness) as to what I would and wouldn’t do; as well as what they were allowed to do to me and my horses; or say to me and my horses. Oh, what a difference TRUTH makes!

Within a week, a new trainer came into my life who was everything I could have hoped for.  She and I are completely in sync with our philosophies and instincts about horses. Only she has the years of experience, knowledge and training that this Novice may not achieve in this lifetime.

Everything, EVERYTHING changed for me, Baby Doe and Spirit.  I will look forward to telling these stories in future posts!

Then, good fortune truly opened up the floodgates.  The owner of the property had found buyers.  Shortly thereafter, in a single 24-hour period, the owner declared that once she closed on the property, the new buyers, with NO horse experience whatsoever, planned to take over management of the barn!

Loading Up To Go To Cameo

Baby Doe Loading To Go To Cameo

Spirit Being Just A Wee Bit Stubborn Loading For Cameo :)

Spirit Being Just A Wee Bit Stubborn Loading For Cameo 🙂

Yet again, I had my two out of there within the week!  God’s good grace and trainer Marianne found us the two last places at Cameo Farms.

Cameo Farms, where things are peaceful and well managed with an experienced older couple. Cameo Farms, where there are acres and acres of pasture and turnout.  Where my two now sleep under the stars and graze to their horsey hearts’ content.  Cameo Farms, where trainer Marianne lives just a block away and has “adopted” us…me and my two… seeing us in such need of care and comforting.  Cameo Farms, where in just a few weeks’ time, my two are blossoming with contentment and becoming their true horsey selves.

Such joy.

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Baby Doe Under “Baby Doe’s Tree”. The Tree Seems To Lean Over Her Protectively 🙂

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What A Very Happy Appy, Spirit!

Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home

Adversity could be fomenting even as I write this.  I read recently that God sectioned off our days into 24 hours because our human frailty cannot bear more than that at one time 🙂

However, this I know. Joy is always undergirding every adversity, every trouble in our lives.  I gird myself with faith, hope and love as I continue on this journey of horses and… LIFE!

Afterword:  I had commissioned a water color painting of my two from Dutch artist, Merel Burggraaf, since it is hard to get photos of the two of them together. Check out her website at: http://www.MerelBurggraaf.com.  She is an exquisite and very intuitive artist.

All these barn changes were happening as she quietly worked on the painting off of pictures and videos of Spirit and Baby Doe.  I hadn’t told her anything about what was happening.  So imagine my delighted astonishment when she sent me a photo of the painting she’s done.  There they are, Baby Doe and Spirit, happily grazing under the stars!

Just as they are doing in real life now 🙂

Artist: Merel Burggraaf (www.merelburggraff.com)

Artist: Merel Burggraaf

Second Confession: How I Became Obsessed With Horse Manure :)

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Unexpected illness, unexpected obsession:

A week after the exquisite mare, Baby Doe, became mine, I arrived at the barn for a simple Saturday of grooming, playing with and riding my two beloved horses.  When I entered and saw Baby Doe’s stall empty, I thought trainer Bryan was working with her and I went out to the arena, only to see trainer Bryan, on the grass, walking Baby Doe in a circle swiftly.  “She’s colicking”, he said.  “No worries, I’ve given her Banamine and have been walking her for more than half an hour.  We can’t let her lie down. She’ll be fine.”

But she wasn’t.

We needed to see some (for want of a better word) manure coming from her.  It wasn’t.  No problem. We just needed to walk her more.  Which we did for two more hours.

Anyone familiar with horses knows that colic is a very real potential of a death sentence. I couldn’t even fathom this at that time.  All I could do was…walk her.

No manure.

A call to the vet was made, who turned out to be the substitute vet. She is a wonderful vet.  With the heat and abundant thunderstorms this summer in South Florida, many horses were colicking and vets were busy.  Add to that, my beloved girl, Baby Doe, had only arrived from Illinois less than two months ago and was still processing that stress.

With the vet’s arrival the “baptism by fire” both for humans and for horse began.

The hours of invasive procedures on my Girl were started. To begin with, they had to tranquilize her in order to shove a tube down her nose and pour down a gallon of water, followed by a gallon of mineral oil.

More walking.

More waiting.

There were two anal exams to see what her organs were doing.  Each of which could have caused a septic rupture…

By 11 o’clock that night it became clear that she had displaced her intestines to the left. Good news, because had they displaced to the right, we would have had to put her down within hours to save her from excruciating, unfixable pain.

Then came the next procedure. ..intravenously fill her with fluids for an hour, administer a med that would shrink her spleen for fifteen minutes, during which time we would longe the heck out of her in order for her intestines to hop over the spleen and get back into place.

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Oh, my Baby Doe, my Girl, you have a mission to fulfill! You and I agreed you didn’t want to be a show horse. You made it possible, by having that hitch in your right shoulder, for me to be your human partner in this life, so that you could minister to those in need…disabled, disadvantaged, special needs, those in sorrow, those who need the healing presence of Horse…

What a faithful creature she was as she, in indescribable pain, was longed, valiantly trotting and loping in the hot humid night.029

The all night barn vigil now commenced.

Humidity intensified, mosquitos got busy, the stars radiated and trainer Bryan and I found some lawn chairs, placed them by her stall and settled in for what was to be a long night at the barn.

I am still trying to find words to describe the various experiences of this night.

First, there was the anxious worry.  He and I took turns standing by her stall, looking for a sign of manure, trying to comfort her in her agonizing pain.

My sweet, loving Girl had turned into a wild savage that bit and kicked if we got near her.  She was flailing her head and pacing. Her ears were ever flat on her head.

Neither Bryan nor I slept a wink.

Eventually the lights turned out.  The horses settled in for the night.  And a kind of magic occurred which one only experiences in a barn in the wee hours of the night.

The silence was exquisite. Punctuated only by snorts and shufflings of the horses. We could hear a background lullaby of crickets and cicadas outdoors.  As I peeked into each stall, I saw horse after horse lying down in a deep sleep.  My boy horse, my Appaloosa, Spirit, had sprawled out in his stall, sound asleep and looking like a baby colt.  I couldn’t take my eyes off that dearness.

Each hour, trainer Bryan, going above and beyond any expectation, would lead my Baby Doe out to walk her for a half an hour or so.  I would drag myself out of my lawn chair to be present, but couldn’t have begun to muster the energy Bryan did… hour after hour.

In those late night, star-filled  moments, it was confirmed to me that there are truly people of honor walking this earth and that I was blessed to experience his caring and indefatiguable soul.

At 5 a.m. the first sign of manure!  I don’t know when manure has EVER made me so happy!

But we weren’t out of the woods yet.   At 7 a.m. and 11 a.m. more relief for the Girl in the way of manure!  We cautiously celebrated and took turns going back to our homes for showers and changes of clothing.

However, when I got back to the barn later that afternoon, the roller coaster ride of the past 24 hours took another dip.  She had gone hours now with no more sign of manure relief.  It could be that her intestines were still displaced to the left.  We might have to repeat the whole procedure.

Trainer Bryan called the vet.  She suggested letting her run free for awhile in a pasture, without overheating, and then to hand graze her for about 15 minutes.

As I watched my glorious Girl run, buck, leap and play, looking like the regal faerie horse she is, her whiteness contrasting with the deep green of pasture grass, I knew that this was no longer a horse that was ill.

After grazing her, I took her back into her stall to cool her off and…immediate success in the manure department!  It was proof positive that her intestines were back in place and the procedure had unequivocally worked!

My darling Baby Doe, thank you for your courage, patience, acceptance and profound soul.  You healed so many parts of me that night as I was privileged to be part of your healing. Thank you. 739

First Confession: Part Two (How I Went From No Horse To Two Horses In Less Than A Year:)

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Oh yes! More unexpected was just around the corner!

Part Two:

When I left off in Part One…

I had  been describing the devastation and grief I experienced when the glorious mare, Serenity, had been moved to another barn.  Just for the record, even writing about it now brings up fresh grief added to ongoing anxiety over her well being.  For so many reasons, it was and still is tough to visit her at her new barn.  Not the least of which is the sadness that overwhelms when I have to say goodbye and leave.  She’s been on my mind so much lately.  I try to comfort myself with the words my best friend continually says to me, “Christine, you can’t save them all”.  Cold comfort.

However, just as she was being moved, I was being introduced to Horse Number One!  The adorable, ueber-intelligent, mischievous, big-hearted, three-year-old Appaloosa gelding, Spirit!  He “had me at  hello”. Or should I say “…at nicker” 🙂photo (8)

My barn buddy, Phyllis, had introduced me to trainer Bryan, because once Serenity was virtually lost to me, I was going to begin looking at rescue horses.  She thought Bryan could help me.

Wiser heads convinced me that perhaps I should explore getting to know whole and healthy horses before dealing with horses in need.  Gee, why didn’t I think of that? 🙂 So when Bryan introduced me to Spirit, I easily agreed with the wiser heads.  The one problem being Bryan wasn’t so sure that he would sell me the little Boy.

There is a saying in the horse world, “green on green equals black and blue”.  In other words, pairing me up with a virtual baby, when I was so very inexperienced, could be difficult and dangerous. Bryan was training him daily and giving me lessons weekly for the next few weeks.  Then he had me ride Spirit for my lessons and observed how good he was for me under saddle.  Even if he had a horsey jump/flinch or spook, somehow the little Boy kept me on him.  (This has held true in the ensuing months as well).WP_20141005_15_22_53_Pro__highres

With ongoing training promised, Bryan finally agreed that Spirit could be mine.

In the meantime, just about every horse person I knew was shaking their head in concern that I would be dealing with a three year old; which did NOTHING for my confidence!  Looking back, perhaps they were right.  But it was already too late for me.  I loved that little gelding wholeheartedly.  With lots of prayer, and in humility, I went forward with buying him.

Eight months later, I am still getting a daily education on the three year old horsey mindset and there’s been a bit of black and blue – nothing more than a broken toe and a few bruises 🙂 Perhaps part of the “accelerated plan” our Creator has for me was just this: how to deal with an intelligent, energetic, clever, lovebug of a baby horse.

As Spirit was still boarding at Bryan’s barn, I had the opportunity to get to know many other horses in my time there and just happened to be there the day after an exquisite Paint mare, at that time named Sylvia, arrived from a farm in Illinois.

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She was five years old, had had some fine training, had been in pasture for a couple of years and was coming to Bryan to be trained up (“finished”) to be a show horse and be sold.  Her “family tree” is a an impeccable list of million dollar horses and she was to be sold for top dollar after Bryan did the finishing of her.

When I met her, she was still tranquilized,very still, quiet and shut down.  I offered her some baby carrots.  People poking their heads into her stall told me she wouldn’t eat them because she wasn’t used to treats.   After a half an hour of speaking to her softly, petting her and letting her smell the carrots, even in her shut down state, she ate them 🙂 Of course!  She’s a horse!

She began getting more animated in the week that followed.  I would spend lots of time with her as well as with Spirit.  She would even whinny, calling out to me, when she saw me coming for a ride on Spirit.

Then one day, she and I were just having some pet and scratch time and suddenly it was as though I heard a tiny voice in my head.  “Please, I don’t WANT to be a show horse”.  I gasped because this sentence was so clear and audible.  I looked at her and said aloud, “I can’t afford you sweet Girl.  But I will do everything in my power to honor your request.”

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Thus began the saga of Baby Doe….

Coming soon…Part Three 🙂

First Confession: How I Went From No Horse To Two Horses In Less Than A Year :)! (3 Parts)

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INDEED… in life, expect the unexpected!

PART ONE:

I began my equine “novice-hood”  by leasing and taking lessons on the glorious mare, Serenity!

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She was both a “hot horse”, meaning even her walk was as fast as most others’ trots, and a gentle sweetheart.

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She was so easy on the ground.  When I’d clean her hooves, she’d just hand them to me.  Harnessing, bridling, saddling…easy!  About a month into my adventures with Serenity, the Houdini of a horse, Fritz :), had unlatched her stall door in the wee hours of the morning. She must have gotten out and gone running into some fencing because she was found cut and bleeding early the next morning.

Enter the good vet, Dr. Hilton.  Serenity’s human and I rushed to the scene as he stitched her up, gave us instructions and predicted she would not be ride-able for at least six weeks.  Her human, who had many different agendas with Serenity, was appalled.  I had already fallen madly in love with this mare and I wasn’t going anywhere.

Thus began my journey of caring for Serenity.  Her human rarely came around during this time.  I went every day when she was stall bound and would groom her gently, massage her, give her treats, kiss her nostrils and just hang out with her.  Soon we were given the okay to take her out, hand graze her and walk her gently.032

I spent happy days and weeks doing this.   Serenity and I developed a poignant bond.032

She taught me things about horses that one doesn’t necessarily learn when actually riding them.  She taught me how to be more authentic, patient and courageous.  She taught me that the best place to shed one’s tears is burying one’s face in a sweet horse’s neck, while hugging them.  She taught me that each horse is completely who they are and no two are alike. Eventually she healed.

I had the honor of cutting off her final bandage.  And the riding lessons commenced again.

So did my “accelerated education”…

I actually  found myself observing a lot of human behavior that I found troubling.  Behaviors like taking things personally when a horse doesn’t do what one wants them to do.  I observed her human slapping her and violently longeing her when she wasn’t happy with her behavior.  It was almost as though the human was acting out how her parents had treated her.  Because I was only the” leasing human”, I had very little say in the matter and would often feel devastated and helpless with my stomach in knots.

After returning from a  weeklong trip to Wyoming, which was ALL about horses, I went to ride Serenity and she was acting strange.  She didn’t want the saddle on her, didn’t want to go forward, was wringing her tail constantly and on trail was jiggity beyond anything I had experienced.  I ask her human’s permission to have Dr. Hilton look her over.  He palpated her, did some other testing and provisionally diagnosed that she was incredibly sore in her hindquarters and needed rest for about 10 days.

Needless to say, her human was again appalled, showed up at the barn, tacked her up and put on a “demonstration” to show how not sore Serenity was.  The whole time, Serenity just looked at me with hollow eyes and dropped her head obediently while being ridden.

It was at this junction that her human and I had to part ways.  I could no longer participate in this.  I  often tearfully pleaded with her human, who was perpetually short of money, to let me buy her so that I could be her human and take care of her needs.  But… no.

I would visit Serenity often in the weeks that followed.   Then, one day, her human moved her to another barn. I was devastated, even though I had permission to see Serenity at the new barn.  But my life had taken a swift and unusual turn…

Part Two Coming Soon!!! 🙂

3 Essential Lessons On How To Be An Improving Human; Taught To Me By Serenity, The Horse

In the beginning of last year’s Year of the Horse :), I leased a superb horse named Serenity. I posted this on my blog site at that time and wanted to repost here because it so aptly captures the beginning of The Novice Horsewoman’s life lessons 🙂

Christine Hendler's Blog


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Lesson Number One: Release your over-cleanliness issues, germ-o-phobia, vanity and more-than-slightly-compulsive neatness!

I had ridden horses a lot in my life but never with any knowledge or instruction. Galloping and hanging on for dear life on a beach in Punta Cana seemed fine with me. After all, the water and sand would break my fall ;). But as I approach a retreat in Wyoming titled, Literature and the Landscape of theHorse, during which we will not only be writing, learning about the history of humans and horses and enjoying renewal; we will also be assigned to a horse all day for five days as part of the experience. Since I am generally a shy and embarrassed person, I didn’t want to spend those five days in the agony of my embarrassment at horse ignorance, so I asked a friend and yoga teacher who is “mommy” to a superb horse…

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The Confessions Begin!

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One’s life can turn on a dime!  I had thought I would sing opera and teach voice forever.  That is until, one day, I realized that I was dreading each job I sang, that I was not enjoying music, that I might actually NOT be an opera singer the rest of my life!  I was blessed that one of the last times I sang in public was a benefit concert of The Liebeslieder Waltzs by Johannes Brahms, one of my all time favorite pieces.  The solos were satisfying and the quartet with four hands piano was electrifying.  That and being able to wear a gorgeous evening gown, one more time, was a wonderful note on which to end 🙂 (yes, pun intended)

I moved, took a job, that while gratifying, was not my life passion and just….waited.  Everyone kept asking me, “What are you going to do next?”.  They kept asking and asking and asking.  All I could answer was, “I have NO idea.”

Then, completely unexpectedly, I was watching television and a show came on where this group in New Mexico had a program that paired horses with PTSD war vets.  I was mesmerized.  I was sobbing at the stories and pictures being told and shown.  Like a bolt of lightening, I knew!    I didn’t know the “what”s, “where”s or “hows”. But I knew I would be destined to work like this in some capacity. I was being “called” to go on this path.

Only one problem, other than childhood/ young adult horseback rides and fearless gallops :), I knew NOTHING about horses other than I thought they were glorious creatures.  I certainly knew not much about war vets, other than through the organizations where I had volunteered and contributed.  But I had a feeling things would unroll piece by piece.

Now, two years, almost to the day, after that first “lightening strike”, I am on the path with both feet and not only 4 but 8 hooves!  This blog will attempt to chronicle the beginning and the current adventures on the path.

So many books are written about horsemanship.  I’ve read hundreds at this point.  What was lacking for me is knowing what it feels like to become a horsewoman without having grown up around horses or ridden horses regularly since childhood.  Sometimes these books have caused me to think or feel that I’ll just never catch on or catch up!

My hope with this blog is that others in my situation will find comfort and edification reading the myriad of new experiences (as stated: the good, bad and the silly 🙂 that the novice horsewoman or man enjoys!

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